Things to Consider When Using a Symbol or Punctuation in a Legal Business Name

Things to consider when naming your companyIn the ever-growing world of online business, many businesses are incorporating symbols and punctuation as part of their business entity names.  For instance, @WonderWhy LLC, or #DogDays Company, or Digital$$$$! LLC are all perfectly acceptable names for an entity formed within the State of Delaware. Before choosing a company name with special characters, there are a few things to research and keep in mind. 

Does the State of Delaware recognize all the characters and symbols in your business name?  For example, the allowable characters to include on a filing with the Delaware Division of Corporations include capital and lower case letters A-Z, numerals 0-9, and all of the following symbols and punctuation: ! “ ” # $ % & ’ () * + ,- . ? / \ : ;@ { } [ ] ~_^ ` |. 

In addition, when completing the IRS form SS4 to obtain the company’s Tax ID Number, also known as the EIN, there are more things to consider when including a special character in your company name. Because of system limitations, the IRS does not recognize many symbols and punctuation in business entity names, even if they are allowed by the state of Delaware. Per the IRS, the only symbols allowed in a company’s name are as follows:

  • letters A through Z
  • numbers 0 through 9
  • ampersand (&)
  • hyphen (-).

If the name of the company contains anything other than what is listed above, the best alternative is to substitute the unrecognized character or punctuation when inputting the name of your business on the EIN application form. For example, if your company name has a character or symbol like @, period, or a + sign, you may want to either spell the character’s name out or drop it entirely.  So, if the name of your company is Dog + Cat Inc, then you may enter Dog plus Cat Inc or drop the symbol and leave a space, Dog  Cat Inc. Another common example is the use of an apostrophe in a business name. For example, if your legal name is Brett’s Holding Company, omit the ’ and submit the application as Bretts Holding Company.  If your legal name contains a forward slash (/) or backward slash (\), these are often replaced with a hyphen (-).  When choosing the name of your company, remember to consider the IRS system limitations and determine how to make substitutions for company names with special characters. 

As a reminder, business names with numbers and letters are acceptable. However, it is wise to keep these character and symbol limitations in mind, as you navigate the process of forming a company and choosing a business name,

Should you have any questions about forming your new entity or obtaining your company’s EIN, feel free to reach out to our knowledgeable team via email at , by phone at 800.345.2677 ext 6900 or via Skype at DelawareInc.  We are here to help!

*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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